2021 East-West Shrine Bowl Notable Invites
Sadly, we are not getting a 2021 East-West Shrine Game as the event was canceled. The 96th annual East-West Shrine Bowl had been scheduled for January 23, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Florida but was canceled due to challenges presented by COVID-19. However, despite the absence of an actual game, we do still have a list of invited players who would have been participating.
While the East-West Shrine Bowl doesn’t get the same amount of buzz as the Senior Bowl, it does feature a ton of players every year who get drafted in the NFL Draft. Last year, 119 players were invited to St. Petersburg for the Shrine Bowl, and 29 of them were drafted. A bunch more were signed as undrafted free agents.
For this article, we’re going to focus on skill position players because, well, those are the players who matter for fantasy managers. It would be fun to talk about linebackers, defensive backs, and the big boys in the trenches for 2,000 words, but is that really going to help managers in dynasty leagues identify rookies worth targeting? We’re going to talk about the sexy positions here: quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, and maybe even a fullback or two.
2021 East-West Shrine Bowl Notable Skill Position Invites
|QB||KJ Costello||Mississippi State||6-7|
|QB||Zac Thomas||Appalachian State||UDFA|
|WR||Marlon Williams||Central Florida||4-5|
|WR||Osirus Mitchell||Mississippi State||6|
|WR||Javon McKinley||Notre Dame||6|
|WR||Warren Jackson||Colorado State||6-7|
|WR||Jonathan Adams||Arkansas State||6-7|
|WR||Jaelon Darden||North Texas||7-UDFA|
|WR||Ben Skowronek||Notre Dame||UDFA|
|RB||Khalil Herbert||Virginia Tech||4-5|
|RB||Vavae Malepeai||Southern Cal||6|
|RB||Otis Anderson||Central Florida||UDFA|
|RB||Caleb Huntley||Ball State||UDFA|
|RB||C.J. Marble||Coastal Carolina||UDFA|
|TE||Luke Farrell||Ohio State||5-6|
|TE||Dylan Soehner||Iowa State||7-UDFA|
|TE||Briley Moore||Kansas State||7-UDFA|
|TE||Jack Stoll||Nebraska State||UDFA|
|TE||Cary Angeline||North Carolina State||UDFA|
Feleipe Franks (QB – Arkansas)
Franks is one of those big boy “NFL size, NFL arm” quarterbacks who generate a lot of buzz around NFL Draft time. He’s 6’6”, 225-ish pounds, with a big arm and some mobility. He was recruited by seemingly every SEC team coming out of high school, landed with Florida, and eventually transferred to Arkansas. He had a solid 2020 to rebuild some of his value, and he remains an intriguing prospect for NFL teams. Is he going to step in and start for a team in 2021? No, probably not. I have seen him listed as a sixth- or seventh-round pick by some analysts, but don’t be surprised to see him go earlier than that because of his physical attributes. Some landing spots could be the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette (WR – Iowa)
Of the players mentioned in this article, Smith-Marsette has the highest ranking I could find among NFL Draft analysts. ProFootballNetwork’s Tony Pauline has him as his 80th overall player, which puts him in the third round. He’s about 6’1” and around 190 pounds or so, and he has long speed with big-play ability. He’ll have to add some weight and functional strength if he is going to be an outside wide receiver in the NFL, and some scouts think he is more of a raw athlete than a polished route runner. I have him as more of a fourth- or fifth-round pick, and he’ll need to land with a team with the right scheme and coaching staff (hello, Arizona Cardinals) in order to make an early impact. He’ll be a project, but the tools are there for the right landing spot.
Tyler Vaughns (WR – USC)
Vaughns has good height at 6’1” or 6’2”-ish, but he is slight and lacks elite deep speed. Normally, a player’s highlight film stands out while the full tape of that player tells the real story. With Vaughns, even his highlight reel is a little meh. He put up excellent numbers and finished third on USC’s all-time receptions list behind only Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. That production alone is going to get him drafted, even if he is solid-but-not-spectacular across the board. Woods and Lee were both drafted in the second round, while Vaughns is probably destined to be a Day 3 pick. As a prospect for fantasy, Vaughns doesn’t really do it for me. He could very well become a solid NFL wide receiver someday, but he doesn’t possess the kind of obvious upside I’m looking for when taking a wide receiver in dynasty rookie drafts.
Amari Rodgers (WR – Clemson)
Probably quicker than he is fast, and at 5’9” is probably destined for slot and return work in the NFL. Still, he is thick enough and strong enough to play at the next level, provided he continues to develop. In the right system, he could be a rotational slot wideout, a returner, and a player who can rotate or motion into the backfield for touches almost immediately. With more NFL offenses spreading out opposing defenses, Rodgers could be an ideal developmental slot wide receiver who thrives in space. Appears to have great vision, balance, and a feel for zone coverage.
Khalil Herbert (RB – Virginia Tech)
Herbert is likely going to be a Day 3 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft because of his promise as a one-cut runner but uncertainly about his overall game. He appears to be a smart runner who excels in space and is able to utilize his blockers but lacks explosiveness. According to The Draft Network’s Joe Marino, what “Herbert is lacking is a proven ability to contribute on passing downs,” both as a receiver and as a pass blocker. Those are two very coachable things, but he’ll need the right landing spot and the right opportunity. Marino thinks he can be a “fringe lead back and outstanding No. 2,” which makes him at least worth a stash in deep formats if it looks like his eventual NFL landing spot features the right blend of coaching and opportunity.
Nick Eubanks (TE – Michigan)
Eubanks is the top tight end prospect invited to the 2021 East-West Shrine Bowl. At 6’5” and 250 pounds or so, he has the ideal size for the position in the NFL. He profiles as more of a receiving tight end than a blocker, but that doesn’t matter to fantasy managers unless it affects his playing time. He didn’t have great production in college, and some question his ability to be a traditional in-line tight end at the NFL level despite his size. That raises some red flags, but Tony Pauline has him listed as a fourth-round selection on his big board, and some analysts think he can sneak into Day 2.
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Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher, and visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.